Newly obsessed with a spike in suicide, Leftists argue that Americans are mean. I contend that the suicide spike is because Leftists have denied us hope.
The recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have brought suicide into the American spotlight. Although an “N” of two is not a trend, the CDC says that there is, in fact, an unpleasant suicide trend in America. According to the CDC, since 1999, America’s suicide rate has increased on average by 30%, with the steepest climbs in the upper Midwest, where suicide has increased by as much as 57%.
Strikingly, the CDC also asserts that more than half of these suicides did not have known mental health risks. All of which forces one to ask “Why are Americans killing themselves in greater numbers?”
As someone who has suffered in the past from serious depression, I suspect hopelessness is a significant factor. When you’re deeply depressed, not only are things bad, they are hopeless.
Moreover, from the depressed person’s point of view, they will never get better. Nothing will change. The depressed person knows deep inside that grim, dark, and awful is a permanent, unchanging condition.
That’s why it doesn’t help if friends say things such as “You just have to get through this bad patch,” or “If you would (get a new job, get out of a bad relationship, etc.), you’d feel better.” Anything that friends tell the depressed person in an effort to steer them away from that blackness is premised on hope. Part of depression, though, is that hope is a delusion. The reality is that it is absolutely inconceivable that things will get better.
I’m fortunate in that I was never depressed to the point of feeling suicidal. Instead, I was a slogger. I slogged through may day, doing what needed to be done, but was deeply unhappy. Moreover, I was unable to make changes that would have increased my happiness because the depression told me (quite falsely) that change was useless. Nothing would improve . . . ever.
Fortunately, the three times that I found myself in one of those dead-end funks, external events happened that forced changes on me. I graduated from the school in which I was unhappy, I recovered from a serious illness that made me unhappy, and a different serious illness allowed me to step back from a job that made me unhappy. In other words, I was always the lucky recipient of a deus ex machina event that broke the depression cycle.
I’ve sometimes wondered how things would have ended up if I hadn’t had an external force to save me from Churchill’s “black dog.” I’d like to think that, like Churchill, I might never have quite abandoned that little spark of hope that keeps one going, no matter how bad things get. In that regard, one of my favorite Churchill quotations comes from a time when he was struggling with depression. As I heard it, he was at a dinner party and, instead of talking to the young woman seated next to him, spent most of the dinner staring unhappily at his plate. Suddenly, he turned to her and said, “We are all worms, but I do believe that I am a glow-worm.” No matter his mood, he never lost faith that he had something to offer.
Others, however, lack that little spark, whether because of nature, nurture, or whatever else combines to make each individual’s psyche. For those people, the thinking is brutally clear: if nothing will ever get better, if life will always be, not just hedged about with failure and isolation, but also drab, pointless, and meaningless, why live?
All of the above describes individual hopelessness. This essay asks whether there be societal hopelessness too?
I think there can be. Of course, we know that, no matter the circumstances, there are people whose will to live always burns, offsetting situational despair. That’s why people survive concentration camps and gulags. That’s why they survive poverty and totalitarianism. That’s why they survive pain and fear. We are hardwired, for the most part, to survive. That hard-wiring can break down, though, and that’s where I want to go with the rest of this post — I want to discuss a society in which the hard wiring has broken down or, more accurately, a society in which the dominant culture has deliberately broken the hard-wiring.
Since 1999 in America, several things have happened that have shattered American certainty at multiple levels. Only one thing was an external event. That was the 9/11 attack, which shook America at a fundamental level. We did then what we had done in 1941, which was to try to wage war against our attackers. The difference between our response in 1941 and in 2001 was twofold. First, in 2001, our attackers were not a nation but were instead a collection of people in thrall to an incredibly bad ideology that permeates large parts of the world, making a head-on war a difficult endeavor at best.
Second, the Left responded not just by attacking the war but by attacking America itself. Since 2003 the left has been engaged in full on warfare against America. We all know that the Left has never been overly fond of America, but the true dripping hatred and disdain for Americans was something new. After 9/11, the Left started by saying we deserved the attack on 9/11 because of our overseas policies. It escalated to say that we Americans are a foul lot who deserved 9/11, not because of any specific foreign policies, but just because we’re bad — and one of the proofs that we’re bad is that we dare to call out the same ideology that killed 2,996 people on American soil in a matter of hours.
I don’t think I need to rehash the past 15 years of hatred — 15 years that saw the presidential candidate for one of America’s two major parties proudly and openly calling half of Americans deplorable. This recent tweet pretty much sums up what Americans have been told to think of themselves in the years since 9/11:
Trump is a greedy, narcissistic, jerk. President of a fucked up country where kids are shot in schools, cops beat up citizens and the FBI investigate shit for smell
— Shmoo Report (@ShmooReport) June 10, 2018
Did you get that? We’re violent, hate-filled and otherwise effed–up. It’s hard to feel hopeful as a nation when your citizens are continuously told that they are evil, pathetic losers.
Nor is this attitude just Twitter ranting. Our students are taught that Americans are despoiling the world because of their arrogant overuse of fossil fuels. They are told that they are a nation of racists, with the racism so deeply bred in the bone that it cannot be removed from the American soul. They are told that they are colonialists who, rather than bringing freedom and prosperity to large parts of the world, are deliberately enslaving and destroying people of color.
In 2008, this attitude went to the very top of the federal government. Hillary’s “deplorables” remark was just the public corollary to Obama’s private speech in 2008 calling Americans who didn’t support him “bitter clingers.” For the next eight years, Obama said directly or indirectly, that Americans were selfish, greedy, and racist, and that Christianity, the majority faith in America, is morally culpable for most of the West’s wrongs.
When the economy lagged, Obama told us this was the new normal; it would never recover. As large segments of American industry died, he promised to hasten their death and then to set a heavy stone on their graves to make sure they didn’t rise up again. It’s probably no coincidence that the same areas on the CDC map that had skyrocketing suicide rates, as opposed to merely rising suicide rates, are pretty much the same areas that Obama wrote off economically, that then used opioids to medicate the resulting existential despair and that, finally, in a last gasp of hope, voted for Trump:
It’s not just politicians, crazed Twitter Lefties, or school teachers that have relentlessly been telling Americans they’re evil and worthless. Pop culture never stops sending that message. Whether its the mainstream media, American magazines, Hollywood, the music industry, or the NFL, the message is consistent: You are bad. You are worthless. You are toxic merely by existing.
And then these same institutions, when two of their commit suicide, start hysterically asking, “Why are American committing suicide?” The Leftist institutional response appears to be that “mean Americans [read: conservatives] are driving sensitive Americans to kill themselves.” To which I would respond that, if you’re looking for mean, the Leftist infotainment/sports complex should start with the mirror.
Not only have American institutions deliberately filled ordinary Americans with self-loathing, they’ve left us without spiritual succor. In his masterful The Rational Bible : Exodus, Dennis Prager talks about faith as the necessary antidote to a world that is filled with horror and injustice:
The late British rabbi, Hugo Gryn, recounted a story from when he was a teenage prisoner in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz: “One midwinter evening one of the inmates reminded us that tonight was the first night of Hanukkah, the festival of lights. My father constructed a little Hanukkah menorah out of scrap metal. For a wick he took some threads from his prison uniform. For oil, he used some butter that he somehow procured from a guard. [Although] such observances were strictly verboten [forbidden] we were used to taking risks. But I protested at the ‘waste’ of precious calories. Would it not be better to share butter on a crust of bread than to burn it? ‘Hugo,’ said my father, ‘both you and I know that a person can live a very long time without food. But Hugo, I tell you, a person cannot live a single day without hope.’”
Without God, there is no hope. Only God gives us hope there is something beyond this life — a destination where ultimate justice is achieved, where we reconnect with loved ones, and where life doesn’t abruptly end for all eternity. A beautiful religious ritual or a beautiful religious edifice can bring us closer to God and hope. (Prager, Dennis. The Rational Bible: Exodus (p. 367). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.)
America has not gone as far as Europe when it comes to abandoning the Judeo-Christian tradition, which is predicated on the type of hope Prager describes, but we’re heading down that path. Polls show Americans consistently turning away from religion. And again, it’s worth noting that this retreat from faith gets a huge push from the Left. The infotainment establishment has nothing but disdain for faith. The only allowable faith is Gaia worship, and that only to prove how vile we Americans are with our wholesale capitalist destruction of Mother Earth (never mind that the surest way to preserve the natural environment is to allow the free market bring a country to sufficient wealth that it can use the cleanest fuel available and no longer needs to destroy the land in order to survive).
Can I sum up where I am at this point in my essay? According to the dominant, Leftist-controlled info-edu-tainment and sports culture, we Americans are vile, greedy, hate-filled, and toxic. Worse, the horrors and injustices that now define who we are and that permeate a world that Americans, and white people generally, have destroyed, are the alpha and omega of existence. There is nothing else. There is no redemption. There is no ultimate justice. Hell is us.
But wait! There’s more. Not only have we been told that we’re worthless scum and that it never gets better, we are beset by a cultural rot that reflects back to us just how ugly we have become.
Rod Dreher has written a deeply disturbing post about the way in which America, without even the excuse of a WWI at its back (a war that Left Germany with millions dead, a bankrupt economy, a broken government beset by revolutions, and impossible reparation demands) is embracing a Weimar mindset.
Our cultural elite tends to view the Weimar Republica’s art scene as excitingly avant-garde, What Hitler is remembered for today is that he drove out scientists, intellectuals, movie stars, directors, etc., the most famous of whom came here and successfully reestablished themselves. In fact, the Weimar cultural scene reflected a complete breakdown of traditional morality (that link is NSFW, so be warned). The movie Cabaret, made in the 1970s, only hints at the debauchery:
The 1998 revival with the brilliant Alan Cummings was created on the upswing of our present race to Weimarizing our culture. It gives you a better taste of what a cabaret actually would a have been like at the time:
Of today’s cultural rot, which Leftists are pushing far outside of the louche cabarets and right into American classrooms and libraries, Dreher has this to say:
Two new animated series about heroic drag queens were recently announced. [You can see the video promos if you follow the link to Dreher’s article.]
Note well: “Super Drags” is on Netflix. Can’t get more mainstream than that. The streaming service is affiliated with RuPaul.
Remember a couple of weeks ago, when we were upset about the kids movie “Show Dogs” grooming children for sexual abuse? Remember Lactatia from a couple of weeks back, the nine year old drag queen that Teen Vogue says “inspires us to live colorfully”?:
[You can see at Dreher’s post the sickening imagine of that nine year old drag queen, which I won’t reproduce here.]
Now, normalizing drag queens for children is the big woke thing. We’ve had Drag Queen Story Hours in libraries nationwide. Now Netflix is turning drag queens into animated superheroes, and RuPaul’s streaming service is turning drag queens into child superheroes.
Note well that Lactatia was photographed above at beloved drag queen RuPaul’s recent drag convention.
Can’t you see what’s happening?
You might think — I certainly hope you think — that your child will not be exposed to this filth. The thing is, your child, and all of us, have to live in a world in which this is normal, and in which the popular culture thinks that dressing little boys up like sexually provocative women is not only permissible, but a sign of cultural progress.
Law and politics cannot possibly be enough to keep sanity alive as Weimar America descends further into decadence.
Please read the whole thing. A culture that has this kind of moral rot is the antithesis of hope.
Last but not least, we’ve become a death culture, with the dominant culture wholeheartedly celebrating abortion. Even as the Left weeps tears when the federal government sensibly refuses to incarcerate children with the adults it seizes when they try to cross the border illegally, Leftists celebrate killing babies. Indeed, self-proclaimed Catholic Nancy Pelosi, who is the most powerful Democrat in America, once raised abortion to the level of a sacrament, claiming that late-term abortions were “sacred ground.” With this mindset, small wonder that she only recently announced that MS-13 gang members, who revel in torturing teenagers to death, have a spark of the divine.
Dead babies = sacred. Sadistic murderers = divine.
Is that who Americans are? Is that hope? Is that sanity? Is what we’re seeing the way of life or the way of death? And if it’s the latter, why in the world are we surprised that more Americans are seeing death as an entirely viable option for themselves?
I don’t pretend to know what drove Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain — both successful people and darlings of the establishment — to feel so hopeless that suicide was the only option. I hope for their sake that there is an afterlife and that whatever haunted them on earth does not follow them there. I wish them peace in death and, perhaps more importantly, I wish for peace in life to those they left behind. My understand is that survivors of a loved one’s suicide so often see the suicide as a terrible indictment on them: they failed to save the person and the person rejected them. That neither is true is irrelevant. I can only imagine the strength it takes to move forward from that.
What I do know is that, for a generation, we have been culture that has been spoon fed hate from kindergarten on up: For twenty years, Americans have been made to see themselves as utterly worthless and evil, they have been taught that life has no value, they are routinely exposed to (and expected to embrace) sick debauchery, and they are being steered away quite deliberately from a deep spiritual faith in ultimate goodness. These are all the ingredients of a dying culture. It’s just that some people are accelerating the dying process on their own behalf, which is unbearably tragic and completely unsurprising.
Image credit: Suicide, 1881 by Edouard Manet, Zurich, Switzerland; Zürich, Sammlung Bührle (Art Museum)); De Agostini Picture Library / E. Lessing; French, out of copyright.